How a Texas Soccer Club Helped African Refugees Feel at Home

“They are like my brothers,” said one team member, a refugee from Tanzania.

The reVision soccer team relaxing with foosballMonica Rhor/USA Today

Umoja ni nguvu. Unity is strength.

For a soccer team of African refugees, this Swahili phrase has been a powerful rallying cry. Many of the players made their way to Houston, Texas, after years spent in refugee camps, knowing very little English except for a few phrases, such as “How are you?” and “Where is the food?”

Although adapting to their new lives was difficult, the players have found familiarity and friendship through their soccer team, the reVision Football Club.

“They are like my brothers,” Iluta Shabani, a high school honor student who grew up in a refugee camp in Tanzania, said of his teammates. “When I don’t have something, they give it to me. When they don’t have, I give it to them.”

The players worry about President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, but even in the face of racial epithets from opposing players or spectators, they’ve kept going—even rising up to defeat a former state champion last month.

Charles Rotramel, who runs a nonprofit that sponsors the team, credits the team members for building this community. “They were looking for a safe place and found it in each other,” he told USA Today.

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